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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need help. I've been reading for hours about all these different methods and still don't know which is best for me. I am hoping some generous soul will provide their opinion. I am an artist and am looking to print full color images on t-shirts. I don't plan on printing large runs as I am not sure which designs will work and I may want to only do limited amounts. I am thinking maybe 10 -20 shirts at a time ... 4 or 5 designs to start ... new ones always being introduced. I don't have tons of money but am willing to make an investment to get the best equipment for what I am trying to achieve. In the future, I may want to print on caps, cups and bags. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
 

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Sublimination is great if you are doing light color garments that are polyester. It is also great for caps, mugs and things like that. The question is can your designs be printed on only light colors and is a poly fabric ok? That is the thing that limits sublimination are the light color garments and poly, as most people like cotton. What type of artwork do you have and what type of garments do you plan to print on?
 

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Hi. You need to look at the intended pricing of your shirts. Sublimation is not a practical proposition if you are going to be pitching your items at the lower end of the market. You simply would not be able to compete with the items printed on cotton. For the middle to higher end of the market sublimation can work, but you are essentially limited to white garments. There are a very small selection of pastel colours available, but these can alter the appearance of light colours within your design, to a certain degree.

BobbieLee is spot on about people preferring cotton. With Hanes discontinuing the Soft Link shirts with cotton inner, that will reduce your options for offering a compromise solution.

Only other viable option for producing full colour without investment in a DTG machine, is transfers.

Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks to everyone for your time and your knowledge. We appreciate all the help we can get! There are so many options and like we said, we don't mind spending the money, we just don't want to spend more than we have too.

We would love to print on bamboo or organic cotton tees but from everything we read, that really isn't an option. Not planning on doing big runs of shirt --- if they were that successful, then we would have to consider outsourcing I suppose. Our price point will be somewhere right around $20 each.

We love the idea of sublimation --- because it sounds as if it may outlast a heat transfer. But if a transfer is sufficient for what we want to do, then we don't want to go crazy with the sublimation.

Then there is the issue if we choose the sublimation method, now we have to figure out from all the choices available with that method.

My head is spinning so early in the morning ......
 

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I would recommend attending a sublimation focused trade show like those from nbm.
Check out www.nbmshows.com They have some excellent workshops as part of the show.
It also a great place to network with other digital decorators.

Sublimation is a high value decorating technology that is growing rapidly. I think it offer the most
options but it is often used with transfer paper for cotton decorating.
 

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I wouldn't pay much attention to davids post. It is plain out WRONG. Sublimation is NOT for cotton. Also, the options are limited to printing on things that are made from certain materials or items that are specially prepared to accept sublimation inks to transfer to them. If you are thinking about sublimation READ, READ, and READ some more about it.
 

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Isn't Chromoblast ink even more expensive than sublimation ink though and still limited to light garments? Also remember reading somewhere about 'overprint' disappearing after the first wash?
 

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Chromoblast inks are actually less expensive than the sublimation inks. Yes it is still limited to light shirts for best results. There are dark shirt solutions but they are more like regular heat transfers. The overprint does wash away after the first print leaving you with the feel of just the garment.
 

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Please accept my apology David. During my time , I have been given a lot of bad advice(not here) and sometimes it has caused either serious or expensive problems and with the expense of the sublimation systems, I felt it would be a good thing to stop an error.
 

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I do sublimination printing on t-shirts. been doing it for over 3 years and have found it to be very successful. I use a hp4550n lazor printer and plain white typing paper. I print on 50/50 t-shirts. While it is true you are somewhat limited in colors I find I am able to print on most any pastel color. So far as cost is concerned while your initial cost for toner is about $1200 {sometimes less} you do not need to buy special paper for your transfers and they peel off great. The cost per transfer is about .25 cents. alfa and hilton enterprises can both give you tons of information on toner, its use etc. We also do trophies and plaques. We print full color plaques and trophy nameplates snd all come out looking great. Costwise we find it lots quicker and cheaper than engraving, buck1
 

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Here is another consideration....Your art + 1 sublimation printer + paper + ink + good heat press =
Shirts (white or light color poly), Aprons, Mouse pads, Coasters, Puzzles, Photo bags, Name tags, Luggage tags, Door hangers, Wooden plaques, Single tiles, Tile murals, Can coolers, Place mats, Christmas ornaments, etc. Add a mug press and you get multi size ceramic mugs and stainless steel travel mugs. Add a c.a.p. press (really a cap press but it does so much more) and you can produce hats or place your art on shirt sleeves, or poly athletic shorts. Whew...so much demand, so little time.
 

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Sublimation can certainly print all those things too. You have to be prepared for your workspace to begin shrinking once you start adding specialist presses though. I speak from experience...LOL

Avoid trying out the sublimated underwear though. I bought a few pieces to experiment with. Poly underwear is vile to wear! Yuk!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
All good advice and great suggestions. But I still can't make a decision. I feel so overwhelmed reading all these things.

I've been reading more about the Hybrid system that allows you to print sublimation or chromablast transfers. I really do like the idea of the sublimation process but am afraid that people are going to want 100% cotton shirts. This is what intrigues me about Chromablast and the idea of having one printer that can do both.

But then what happens is I start thinking, would it make more sense to bite the bullet and buy a DTG that can do both. But what if this business isn't for me, then I would have this very expensive piece of equipment that was useless for me.

I don't have much money but am willing to make the investment. I just can't figure out which route makes more sense. Since I don't have all kinds of $$$ to play with, obviously I want to make the smartest choice.

This stuff makes my head spin. So many choices. What about the hybrid system? Any thoughts? Anyone know if you can print on 100% organic cotton with Chromablast .... what about bamboo? We really would like to be part of an eco-friendly trend. It can't hurt.

Again, thanks everyone for the valuable time and info.
 

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The biggest downside to sublimation, is people do prefer cotton garments. That's why I have to utilise cut vinyl in addition to my sublimation.

Only thing I would suggest to you, is do lots of market research before you buy. Equipment costs, consumables, ancillary equipment, sales avenues, pricing structures, marketing choices. Once you have those figures down on paper, you'll be able to form a better idea of which system to go with.
 
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